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Nov 24, 4:34 AM EST

Bangladesh tribunal sentences man to death for killings during 1971 independence war

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Bangladesh tribunal sentences man to death for killings during 1971 independence war

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- A special tribunal in Bangladesh on Monday sentenced a collaborator of the Pakistani army to death for his role in killings during Bangladesh's 1971 independence war.

Mobarak Hossain, a former commander of a collaborators' group, was given the death penalty after being convicted of killing 33 civilians in the eastern Bangladeshi district of Brahmanbaria.

He was also separately sentenced to life in prison for abducting and killing a man during the war.

In 1971, Hossain was a member of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which openly campaigned against the creation of Bangladesh, then the eastern wing of Pakistan.

Many years after the independence war, Hossain joined the Awami League party of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a village committee member, but was expelled in 2011.

The prosecution welcomed Monday's decision, but the defense said it would appeal the verdict announced by Justice M. Enayetur Rahim, the head of a three-member panel of judges.

Bangladesh blames Pakistani soldiers and local collaborators for the deaths of 3 million people during the nine-month 1971 war. An estimated 200,000 women were raped and about 10 million people were forced to take shelter in refugee camps in neighboring India during the war.

Over the past four years, two special tribunals have convicted 13 people, mostly senior leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Hasina set up the tribunals in 2010, reviving a stalled process and making good on a pledge she made before 2008 elections.

There was a process of trying suspected war criminals after Bangladesh gained independence, but it was halted following the assassination of then-President and independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman - Hasina's father - and most of his family members in a military coup in 1975.

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